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An Alternative Take on the Top 5 Marketing Challenges 2018

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

A mountain climber climbing up one side of a mountain

The CIM recently published an article early in September highlighting what they believe to be today’s top five marketing challenges. Here is my take on the BIG five, with a little humour and simplified analogies to boot (gotta love a good analogy):

1) Demonstrating ROI

This is fundamental for any marketing department. Why would you run the risk of not being able to show the value of the work being done within your department?

The CIM have got this bang on the money (no pun intended, well a little bit) as many marketing departments are seen as a cost centre, where a business views them from the perspective of ‘how much is this gonna cost me?’ or ‘how can we do this, but cheaper?’ which is a conversation none of us wants or likes to have.

A much-simplified way to look at it is if marketing cannot show an ROI then aren’t we just creating art?

And yes, I realise that if you are an artist, this will be a prerequisite to you generating an ROI, so perhaps this article isn’t made for artists…. Note: Thought for the next topic, how Artists can use marketing to their advantage.

2) Lack of fundamental marketing knowledge

It didn’t surprise me that this little beauty is in the power five. I think we would all be staggered to find out just how many Marketing Departments are either there to follow others’ instructions (from those not in Marketing or who don’t have a clue what Marketing is) or even worse, have ended up being a mixture of those that know little and those that know less.

Why is it that this has come to be a norm and acceptable that Marketing must follow a sales-led strategy or that the destiny of a Marketing Strategy is led by someone not in the department? Most departments are intrinsically linked, especially Sales and Marketing, yet there seems to be a massive disconnect between one and the other, with Marketing usually seen as a poor relation.

A simplified way of looking at this is to simply view it from the inside looking out – Would you tell someone in sales how to sell, or that their ‘bants’ on the phone weren’t quite on point? No, yet it’s perfectly acceptable the other way around.

3) Understanding customer behaviour

This is a strange one for me as when exactly did consumers trust organisations with information? Was it when people were leaving pen drives on trains? Or when we all used the postal service to deliver valuable information in paper envelopes, handled by multiple strangers? – cause that was secure wasn’t it!

The truth of the matter is that security will always be an issue, but as long as platforms make transactions, (not even transactions) or daily activities quicker, easier to perform and less thought needed to get them done, then we will continue to hand over our valuables.

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A simpler way of earning your customers’ trust ends up being quite difficult: Don’t be a d*ckhead and do the simple things, but effectively – comply with the most up-to-date practices and if unsure what these are, ask!

4) Keeping up-to-date with digital

Let’s face it, trying to keep up with what the latest digital technology or even platform is can be difficult, then factor in that you have spent the past 5 years building up a following on one of these platforms, only to be told that there is yet another you need to monitor and control 24 hours – don’t worry, sleep is overrated anyway.

What is true, however, is that changing and emerging trends very rarely take control overnight and many only really take off when a secondary version or competitor of the original channel is created – i.e. MySpace and Facebook, Siri and Alexa, Emojis, THE World Wide Web!!

The CIM are right to point out that it is the lack of skills within certain areas that are worrying, but this will only be overcome by taking effective steps in educating the next generation, who are now growing up knowing no other world than a world connected by the Internet, on how to harness its power within the Marketing sphere. The rest of us will just wait around until they can show us what to do 😁 – and that’s what social media has been designed for – it all makes sense now!

To simplify this, take it one step at a time, learn a skill or how a platform works and then deploy the age-old marketing tactics on it – they haven’t changed, only the channels of communication have.

5) The changing role of product management

I think we may have run out of challenges to make up five here, as this should read ‘The Changing Role of Marketing’. Does a product manager sit in the centre? Or are they part of a wider offering that should be taken into consideration? A customer-centric, customer focussed offering?

I think the takeaway here is that all departments are intrinsically linked. The one connection throughout is Marketing, the thread that ties it all together. A company that doesn’t have this runs the risk of a severe lack of communication and working in silos.

This is simple, work together, focus on the customer, provide something that solves a problem or an issue and communicate this to your target market through the correct channels.

I hope this has brightened someone’s day a little as it’s not all bad, in fact, Marketing is a great profession, it is just totally misunderstood by many. So let’s educate them, shall we.


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